Earlier this week, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed two bills amending Rule 2106 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules to provide for greater use of affirmations in lieu of notarized affidavits in civil proceedings.
In advocating for its adoption, sponsors of Bill A5772/S5162 stated that the Bill’s purpose is to relieve unnecessary burdens on litigants and others involved in the litigation process. Richard Lewis, President of the New York State Bar Association, is quoted as having said that “this law is a big step forward for access to justice” as the notarization requirement was a “big impediment in civil litigation, particularly for unrepresented parties in rural areas of the state where finding a notary is difficult.”
Under existing law, only attorneys, physicians, osteopaths and dentists admitted to practice in the State of New York who are not parties to an action as well as persons physically located outside of the geographic boundaries of the United States, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, are able to submit an affirmation in lieu of an affidavit.
Bill A5772/S5162 expands the ability to submit an affirmation in lieu of an affidavit. It allows an affirmation, wherever made, by any person, wherever located, subscribed and affirmed by that person to be true under the penalties of perjury, to be used in a civil action in New York in lieu of and with the same force and effect as an affidavit. In addition to allowing affirmations by parties, witnesses and experts, this change will also allow attorneys and law office personnel to use an affirmation of service rather than a sworn affidavit of service of documents.
The following affirmation language should appear as the last paragraph before the signature:
I affirm this ___ day of ______, ____, under the penalties of perjury under the laws of New York, which may include a fine or imprisonment, that the foregoing is true, and I understand that this document may be filed in an action or proceeding in a court of law.
While this full expansion takes effect January 1, 2024, also passed was an interim measure, Bill A6065/S2997, which takes effect immediately and broadens the definition of professionals who may submit an affirmation in lieu of a sworn affidavit to “all healthcare practitioners” who are licensed, certified, or authorized under the Education law.